Things to Do in New York City

Are you going to spend 4 days in New york City? We've prepared a recommended itinerary to make the most of your trip. You won't miss any of Manhattan's highlights. Once in New York, buy the “I love NY” t-shirt at the nearest gift shop and explore one of the most exciting cities in the world. The city offers a myriad of great attractions and there is no better way of getting around the “Big Apple” than by foot. The Statue of Liberty is an absolute must-see as well as the dominating Empire State Building. Relax in the Central Park or fill your day with culture in one of many top-notch museums. What is your favourite NYC sight? Share your tips!
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Day 1: Things to Do in New York City

Statue of Liberty

This is New York in one sight. The iconic, majestic statue is an absolute must-see while visiting the city. There is only one way to access this colossal statue placed on Liberty Island - by ferry. You can depart from two points - New York and New Jersey. Whichever you pick, once you board the ferry, you are in for an unforgettable experience.

Ellis Island

Once a gateway to the USA for millions of immigrants, this small island close to shore which is best known for its immigrant inspection station. The first immigrant ever to pass the inspection here is said to be a teenage girl Annie Moore in 1892 and the last immigrant was inspected here in 1954. During its active era, around 12 millions of immigrants went through the immigration inspection here. The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration introduces its visitors to this era and the stories of the immigrants. Both the Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. The place is definitely worth visiting for its educational value. You can get there by ferry and during the ferry ride you can enjoy the view of the Statue of Liberty and of Manhattan.

Battery Park

This park, located at the southernmost tip of Manhattan, is a park worth visiting for many reasons. Not only will it provide some rest from the sometimes stressful nature of the city, but it is also filled with interesting monuments of American history. Also, you can enjoy a nice view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Castle Clinton, which is part of the park (and was once used as a fortress protecting New Amsterdam), was the first American immigration station before the one on Ellis Island was opened. Today, the park is filled with many memorials: e.g. The Sphere – a sculpture that was originally placed at the World Trade Centre Plaza and now serves as 9/11 memorial or the East Coast Memorial dedicated to the memory of the soldiers that were killed in World War II.

Castle Clinton

Once called West Battery, the castle used to be a fort that was meant to protect the city from the attacks from the sea. Later on, it served many different purposes (for a while it was even an aquarium). Nowadays, most tourists visit it in order to get their tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island which are sold there. However, Castle Clinton is a place with interesting history. It was here where the first immigration station was placed (before the Ellis Island began to serve as an immigration station in 1892). More than 8 million immigrants went through this station on their way to the US. There is no entrance fee and the castle is located in the beautiful Battery Park which is definitely worth visiting.

Trinity Church

A Gothic Revival building located on Manhattan and an active parish church. Its breathtaking interior is definitely worth visiting (e.g. in order to see the magnificent stained glass). One of its cemeteries (there are three cemeteries in total in the Trinity Church Campus) remains the only active cemetery on Manhattan. There are many famous people buried on Trinity Church Cemetery: e.g. Alexander Hamilton (one of the founding fathers) or Robert Fulton (American engineer). The guided tour and the entrance are free but the opening hours are adjusted so that the tours would not collide with the services. The place is very popular so be prepared for many tourists. Also, since it is an active church, respectful behaviour is expected.

New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange is the largest stock exchange in the world. It is located on Wall Street, New York - a place that is (and always was) firmly connected with money. The New York Stock Exchange was founded in 1792. It can be said that it was here where the Great Depression started on October 29, 1929 when the stock market collapsed. An urban legend connected to this event says that people were jumping out of the windows on Wall Street in order to commit suicide. In fact, there were only two suicides (by jumping out of the window) connected to the event on Wall Street in that period. For safety reasons, you cannot get inside the building. But it is still a place worth visiting both for its historic value and for the aesthetic value of the building itself.

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Day 2: Things to Do in New York City

New York Public Library

The largest library in New York and the second largest one in the US (the first one being the Library of Congress). It is home to more than 50 million items (mainly books but also DVDs, CDs, etc.) and its collection covers every possible topic that has ever been written about. The New York Public Library is also a popular filming location. If you are a fan of Ghostbusters, you will certainly remember the scenes filmed there. Among other films that feature the library are: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sex and the City or Spider Man. You can enter the library for free (even the Beaux Arts building itself is definitely worth seeing) but be aware that you are entering not only an important sight but also an actual library so you are expected to behave accordingly. Tours of the library meet at the reception desk in Astor Hall.

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal is a Beaux-Arts railroad terminal in New York City. There are 44 platforms (no other railway terminal in the world has this many) and 67 tracks. The place is full of surprises. Not only is there a whispering gallery (where your whisper can be heard elsewhere in the gallery) but there is also a top secret M42 room (which does not appear on any map of the place or even on a blueprint) hidden somewhere and a tennis court. There are many shops and places to get food located inside the Grand Central Terminal. You can get there easily by subway (Lines 4, 5, 6, 7 and S) or by bus (Lines M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M42, M98, M101, M102, M104, Q32).

Chrysler Building

An Art Deco skyscraper and one of the tallest skyscrapers in New York City. For a short period of time (11 months) before the Empire State Building was finished in 1931, it actually was the tallest building in New York. It was built for the Chrysler company (though the company no longer has its headquarters there) and the Chrysler-related features were embedded into its design. There are 77 floors in total and 32 elevators. The building appears in many films (e.g. Men in Black III). Only the lobby is open to the public, the rest of the building is unfortunately not accessible to tourists. Despite that, the building is definitely worth seeing since it is a true gem of Art Deco style.

United Nations Headquarters

The headquarters of the United Nations is a complex in New York City designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. The complex has served as the official headquarters of the United Nations since its completion in 1952. It is located in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, on spacious grounds overlooking the East River. Its borders are First Avenue on the west, East 42nd Street to the south, East 48th Street on the north and the East River to the east. The term "Turtle Bay" is occasionally used as a metonym for the UN headquarters or for the United Nations as a whole. The United Nations has three additional, subsidiary, regional headquarters, or headquarters districts. These were opened in Geneva in 1946, Vienna in 1980, and Nairobi in 1996.

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center is a complex of Art Deco high-rise buildings in the heart of Manhattan. It was opened in 1939. Originally it consisted of 14 buildings (while now there are 19). The Center houses many shops and cafés and even the NBC studios. The Top of the Rock observation deck offers spectacular views of New York City. It comes into focus mainly during the Christmas period because of the annual Christmas tree lighting. This event found its way even into films. Here, in front of the Christmas tree, Kevin is reunited with his mother in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Another Christmas-related New York tradition is ice-skating at The Rink at Rockefeller Center. Due to the popularity of the event, there are always long queues. However, you can reserve your tickets online in advance.

Times Square

Times Square (nicknamed “The Crossroads of the World”) is the best known square in New York City and also its beating heart. It got its name in 1904 and it was named after the New York Times which moved the headquarters there. It comes into focus mainly during the New Year’s Eve celebrations which are traditionally held at Times Square (the tradition dating back to 1903) and covered by the ABC programme: Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. During the evening the famous ball is dropped. Times Square is also known for its neon signs. The NASDAQ sign at Times Square is the world’s largest LED sign. Also, there are many brand shops, cafés and restaurants. The square also appeared in many films. Among the most famous ones are Vanilla Sky, Enchanted, Spider-Man 3 or New Year’s Eve. Times Square is usually crowded with tourists. Note that since 2011, the square is smoke free. If you opt for the public transport, you can get to Times Square by subway (lines A, C, E, N, Q, R, S, 1, 2, 3, 7) or by bus (lines M20, M16, M104, M7).

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Day 3: Things to Do in New York City

New York City Hall

This French Renaissance Revival building in Manhattan is the oldest city hall in the USA. Its construction was finished in 1811 and it was designed by two architects – John McComb Jr. and Joseph–François Mangin. The New York government and the mayor of the city are seated here. The building is located in the beautiful City Hall Park. The park is a great place to escape the rush of the city and have some rest. The building itself is definitely a must-see. There are free City Hall tours organised but they need to be booked in advance.

National September 11 Memorial & Museum

The memorial commemorates the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The names of nearly 3000 victims are engraved in bronze on the Memorial so the visitors can pay their respects. It was opened to public on September 11, 2011 – the day which marked the 10th anniversary of the tragic event. The memorial is situated on the former location of the Twin Towers. The 9/11 Museum, which is a part of the complex, introduces its visitors to the 9/11 events from the factual side but also provides authentic stories, artefacts and memories of the victims. Since it is a memorial place, respectful behaviour is expected.

Chinatown

Chinatown is a large area populated mainly by Chinese people or by people of Chinese descend. It is estimated that nearly a hundred thousand people live there which makes Chinatown the largest Chinese enclave in New York City. The Chinese culture is ever present and the festivities (e.g. Chinese New Year) are definitely worth visiting. Also, there is a Museum of Chinese in America which offers information on the development of Chinese culture in American environment. It is also a good place to go shopping for groceries and food in general because both are quite cheap there. And above all, it is a great spot to taste traditional Chinese cuisine.

Little Italy

This part of New York got its name from its immigrant population, mainly consisting of Italian Americans. Today, however, the number of inhabitants of Italian descent is not significantly higher than in the rest of New York. The place is still worth visiting though because the Italian atmosphere is still very present and alive. During your visit, you can taste the Italian cuisine in one of the ever present Italian restaurants or cafés. There are also many wine-related events (e.g. wine tasting) organised. If you would like to learn more about the history of the Italian community in the USA, you should visit the Italian American Museum which provides interesting information on this topic. If you visit the place in the second half of September, you might get to see the Feast of San Gennaro which takes place in Little Italy and celebrates the Italian community and its culture.

Flatiron Building

The Flatiron Building, originally the Fuller Building, is a triangular 22-story steel-framed landmarked building located at 175 Fifth Avenue in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, and is considered to be a groundbreaking skyscraper. Upon completion in 1902, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city at 20 floors high and one of only two skyscrapers north of 14th Street – the other being the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, one block east. The building sits on a triangular block formed by Fifth Avenue, Broadway, and East 22nd Street, with 23rd Street grazing the triangle's northern peak. As with numerous other wedge-shaped buildings, the name "Flatiron" derives from its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron. The building, which has been called "one of the world's most iconic skyscrapers and a quintessential symbol of New York City", anchors the south end of Madison Square and the north end of the Ladies' Mile Historic District.

Empire State Building

An iconic Art Deco skyscraper and one of the best known buildings in New York. It got its name from the city’s nickname the “Empire State”. For many years, it was the tallest building in the world (since 1931 to 1970) and even today it remains among the tallest buildings in the USA and in the world. The Empire State Building's top floors offer spectacular views of the city (especially during the sunrise and the sunset). If you want to avoid the long queues, you can buy your tickets online. The building appears in the King Kong film in its most iconic scene where the gigantic ape climbs it in order to escape its pursuers. Other well-known films that feature the Empire State Building are Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally or Independence Day. If you wish to get to the Empire State Building by the public transport, you can get there by subway (Lines B, D, F, V, N, Q, R, W, 6) or by PATH (rail system).

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Day 4: Things to Do in New York City

American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History, consisting of 28 interconnected buildings, is one of the biggest museums in the world. It was co-founded by Theodore Roosevelt Sr. (father of the 26th American president) and it covers more than 30 million specimen of plants, animals, meteorites etc. Among the most interesting highlights of the museum are: a blue whale replica, the dinosaur skeletons or one of the Moai statues of Easter Island. The American Museum of Natural history is quite close to the Metropolitan Museum of Art so if you want to visit both, you might do so in the same day. However, both museums are quite large so be prepared for lots of walking. Even though the American Museum of Natural History is a popular sight, it is rarely crowded (due to its size). If you are a fan of the film Night at the Museum (based on a book by Milan Trenc) you will enjoy the visit because it was here where the story takes place.

Central Park

Central Park is the largest park in New York City. Spreading across 843 acres, the park is even bigger than some countries (e.g. the Principality Monaco or the Vatican City State). Despite the fact that it was landscaped, it looks very natural. The park was opened for public for the first time in 1858 and broadened to its present-day size in 1873. The Central Park is one of the most popular filming locations in New York City. Among many films that feature the Central park is Breakfast at Tiffany’s, When Harry Met Sally or Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Among the many places worth visiting in the Central Park are: the Belvedere Castle, the famous Strawberry Fields (a memorial dedicated to John Lennon) and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. If you do not feel like walking all the way through the park, you can rent a bike, enjoy a horse carriage tour or a pedicab tour.

Strawberry Fields

Strawberry Fields is a memorial dedicated to a famous British singer and songwriter – John Lennon. It is located in Central Park near the Dakota Apartments where Lennon lived and where he was shot in 1980. The name of the memorial is an allusion to one of the Beatles songs titled “Strawberry Fields Forever”. The memorial was officially dedicated on the anniversary of his birthday October 9, 1985 and apart from the peace sign it also bears a word “Imagine” which is another allusion to Lennon’s music career. On the anniversaries of his birthday and his death, the fans gather there and leave flowers and candles. The memorial is located between the 71st and the 74th street.

5th Avenue

Perhaps the most iconic avenue in the world. Browse the super-expensive shops and breathe in the atmosphere of the Big Apple. This major thoroughfare is lined with prestigious shops and flagship stores, and those located between 49th Street and 60th Street are consistently ranked among the most expensive in the world! Listed as one of the greatest streets to visit in the USA by the American Planning Association in 2012, this historic street is not just about shopping. It is also home to some marvelous museums, parks, exclusive apartments, and historical landmarks. The street is waiting to surprise you with many national historic landmarks too, like the Empire State Building, the Flatiron Building, the New York City Public Library, the Rockefeller Center, and St. Patrick’s Cat­hedral!

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